For a quick review: An Activator is a strategy to activate students' prior knowledge on a particular subject before a unit of study. (Daily Assignment #41)
Let me share with you another activator called a "Wordsplash". " A Wordsplash is a collection of words or pictures that represent key terms or concepts from text that students are expected to learn or understand," as defined by Dr. Dorsey Hammond of Oakland University, 1985.
A Wordsplash, not only activates students' prior knowledge, it also motivates students, lets students know what is important in the unit and it actively engages students.
To create a Wordsplash, the teacher selects key vocabulary/ key terms from the unit of study or a reading. In the center of a sheet of paper put the title of the unit, e.g. Islands, Civil War, Seasons, Holocaust, To Kill A Mockingbird, Stuart Little. Then scattered around the title place the key vocabulary or terms. Students, either in partners or in a group, predict how these terms relate to the topic. All ideas must be accepted. One student will need the job of recorder. Set a time limit for this activity, usually 15-20 minutes, depending on the age group and the quantity of words/terms.
Isle Ocean Volcano
Continental Islands Pennisula Coral Reef
Oceanic Islands Islets Desert Island
Australia Global Warming Bay
Inlet Cove Sandbar Flooding
Don't do too many words on the Wordsplash, usually 10-20, again depending on the age group. And don't use unfamiliar vocabulary. This is not a vocabulary test. Students have to know the vocabulary in order to make the predictions.
After the time limit, process the Wordsplash with the whole group. As the teacher, you will quickly identify misconceptions and confusions.
Another bonus of this activity, students will be actively engaged in learning and reading about the topic because they will want to find out if their predictions were correct.
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P.S. Sorry for the Wordsplash example. I'm afraid it doesn't have the look I was aiming for.